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St. Salome

This is the blog post I was not going to write.  It was something too personal, too private, too embarrassing to write about.  It wasn’t something I was comfortable talking about with anyone outside of a few carefully selected close friends and family members.  Plus, it all happened so quickly, I am not only still processing things, but still trying to figure out exactly what is going on.  I figured I would write about it eventually, but not now, not yet.  Then yesterday morning a woman I barely know, someone I haven’t spoken to in probably 20 years, called up my Aunt B to ask her if it was true that I was dieing in the hospital with a “mass” on my uterus.  And just like that, my hand got forced.

Here’s the situation (and I’m terribly sorry if it’s TMI – blame it on the prayer chain): I’ve been bleeding pretty heavily for about three weeks now.  It took me a long time to call my doctor about it, partly because I hate making a fuss over something that might be nothing, and partly because all the websites I went to for information told me that unless I was passing out from blood loss, or the problem had been persisting for multiple months, mostly I should just suck it up, and chalk it up to the joy of being a woman.

Last Friday I finally called my doctor, and was told that if I was having this kind of bleeding, I really should be visiting my nearest Emergency Room.  I didn’t like that, so I made an appointment to be seen on Monday, and tried to just deal with it a little while longer.   Saturday night I threw in the towel, and asked my sister Mariah to take me to the ER.  So off we toddled, armed with multiple books, crafting projects, a small overnight bag for me just in case, and plans to watch the ND vs. USC game on the tv at the ER.  Once we were there, the nice medical professionals ran all kinds of tests, informed me that I was dangerously anemic from blood loss, to the point where they were going to keep me overnight in order to give me a blood transfusion, and that it looked like I was probably dealing with fibroids, a fairly common problem for lots of women.  Also, Notre Dame won.

Once I was up in my hospital room, I called my parents to update them on the situation.  My mother asked me if it was ok to put me on the parish prayer line.  I was hesitant.  On the one hand, we have some mighty women of prayer on that prayer line, the kind of women who talk, and God listens.  On the other hand, as good as they are at talking to God, they are also good at talking to each other, and I didn’t really feel like having to discuss my reproductive parts with half the parish.  So Mom and I agreed on some carefully vague wording that balanced my need for privacy with my need for prayer, and I settled in for a long night of having red blood cells pumped into my arm.

I felt much better after the blood transfusion (lab tech: “Hey!  You’ve got some color in your cheeks!”), and the doctor let me go the next morning with a prescription to stop the bleeding, and instructions to see him in the office as soon as possible to arrange for the procedure that would hopefully fix the underlying problem.  Mariah picked me up, took me to Wal-Mart so I could get my prescription filled and also buy red meat, then took me to my parents house to be fussed over and coddled.  I fell asleep just about as soon as I got there, and slept most of the day.

At some point in the afternoon, I got up for a few minutes, and wandered into the kitchen where I found my father on the phone.  It seems that one of the ladies on the prayer chain, the wife of a man I used to work for, wasn’t satisfied with the information my mother had given, and decided to call to get more details.  My father, the man who raised seven daughters and currently works for an organization that teaches natural family planning, has almost no boundaries whatsoever regarding female reproductive biology.  Also, I hadn’t gotten around to telling him that I wanted to keep this at least somewhat private.  So he started happily telling this woman anything she wanted to know.  When I walked into the kitchen, they were discussing my uterus.  In detail.  It was… special.  I tried to get Dad off the phone as quickly as I could, but the damage had been done.

Yesterday was full of doctor’s appointments, informing my boss about the situation, figuring out FMLA and Short Term Disability, and whether I’m going to have enough PTO to not just cover this procedure and my recovery time, but also the holidays that will follow immediately after.  Then there was seeing my doctor in the afternoon (looks like I’m having outpatient surgery in early December), getting more blood drawn for additional tests, and starting to figure out the logistics of the whole thing.  Plus, I’m still fairly anemic (my doctor told me I was now officially on the red meat diet), which makes you really worn out, and a side effect of the drugs to stop the bleeding is that they tend to make people emotional.  So it’s been a lot.  By the time I got home, I was exhausted.  And then I find out about the phone call my Aunt got that morning.

Here’s the thing: the woman who called my aunt (btw, thanks to her for breaking the news to my family member before I’d had a chance to tell her myself) isn’t all that close to my ex-boss’s wife who got the details out of my father.  That means that there are any number of links in the chain between the two, and also that my ex-boss’s wife has been a busy little bee indeed.  And, seriously, I know she’s a busy woman.  Doesn’t she have anything better to do than to talk to people I barely know about my private parts?

Anyway, in the meantime I’m working on getting on with things.  There’s all kinds of stuff to figure out, from working out the details of the time I’m going to have to take off from work, to cleaning the house so I won’t mind that people are coming in and out and using my kitchen, to trying to build up my blood and my immune system before hand.  There’s a lot to take care of between now and December 2.  In the meantime, could we please not talk about it?

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